Testimonial of Gibran Massooh
While journalists in Lebanon were either restrained or bribed, brave voices against tyranny were getting louder overseas. A tyranny that conceals the truth, suppresses freedom, and throws innocent Daheshists in prison. One such leading voice was the voice of Gibran Massooh, the owner of “Al-Mukhtasar” magazine, published in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He followed the persecution of Daheshists closely and recorded faithfully its stages and minutes. In the seventh issue, year two, July 1947, page 3, of his magazine, he said the following:
“Marie Hadad…that faithful disciple of Dr. Dahesh is the sister-in-law of the Lebanese President Bechara El-Khoury. Had she distanced herself from Dahesh, she could have achieved whatever power and supremacy she desires. However, she did not because this lady does not hide behind anyone and she seeks no power or supremacy. She will not forsake her freedom in exchange for all glory and glitter of this world. She will defend the freedom of speech, thought, and belief with her life.
She is now being tortured, insulted, and lashed in prison. She is calling for help and her call has reached the American countries. She is demanding freedom to a man who had founded a cause that brings humanity happiness. She believes in this cause and would not want to betray her conscience and would not be subservient. She writes the history of freedom with her blood so that it is read by generations to follow. I have no doubt that people of Arabic descent will be reading these words fifty years from now:
“About fifty years ago, the late Marie Hadad was tortured and put in prison for the sake of freedom. She was lashed, wounded, and appealed to all the Arab thinkers, writers, poets, and journalists. However, her appeal was like the echo of a scream in a gorge. That’s because thinkers of that era had misguided senses and depraved conscience.”
After he talks about Mai (Marie) Ziyadeh, the famous Arab writer, and her unjust imprisonment, he reverts back to talking about Marie Hadad and says on pages 14-15 of the same issue:
“It is a strange coincidence that this is the second prisoner named Marie. What is even more strange, is the role that Arab writers took on as they did with the first Marie, where they did not take a single step in defending her. What is more likely to happen, they will not move with this one either. However, they will undoubtedly march in her funeral and eulogize her. It is because the art of fake tears and eulogies is rampant in Lebanon and throughout the Arab countries… it is possible that it is the only art that Arabic literature can be proud of…
We are not writing these lines in order to propose them at the doors of Arabic literature, asking for help. No, we do not waste time by moving a dead corpse. We do not write them to propose at the doors of corrupt courts seeking justice and fairness. No, we do realize that this group had achieved their independence from foreign and non-foreign authorities and can dictate things on their own…however, we write these lines for history. Those that visit Lebanon after a long period of being away, should not forget their visit to this Bastille…because it is a great historic landmark that is not less fascinating than Mount Sunneen or the cedars [of Lebanon].
Each visitor should examine this large prison carefully and then remember that one of the great Middle-Eastern writers of the era (M. Ziyadeh) resided under its roof. All this happened because her father did harm her in two ways: First, he was the cause of her existence and second, he bequeathed to her some wealth. She was accused of being insane and imprisoned. However, this insanity affected her life, but not her mind. The pen that used to write eloquence and magic was broken over there—where literature was offended and the offense merited its recording in the history of world literature.
The visitor will also remember that between these walls, Marie Hadad was imprisoned, tortured, insulted, and lashed…because she defended a belief that she did not desire to betray; because she requested the rescue of an innocent person from the claws of persecution and torture; and because she did not soften her position and did not become obedient to a corrupt government. Because of all this, dear visitor, this Bastille will be the most fascinating scene you’ll encounter during your visit to Lebanon.”
In issue twelve, year one, November 1946, pages 1-2, of the “Al-Mukhtasar” magazine, Gibran Massooh wrote the following under the title “Horrible Page”:
“We said earlier that the case of Dr. Dahesh is a fierce battle between two women, who happened to be two sisters. Then appears Michel, the brother of the two sisters: It is Michel Chiha, the founder of the French language newspaper Le Jour. It is issued in Beirut, just like the Al-Bashir newspaper, however Le Jour is financed by Rome. Since it is religious in character, it is only natural for us to find Michel Chiha on the side of those that oppose Dahesh—in other words, against his sister, Marie Hadad. He is a personality that played an important role in the turn of events of this story since he is the owner of a newspaper, the brother-in-law of the Lebanese President, and one of the owners of the bank Firaoun and Chiha.
Then appears a young woman named Magda, the daughter of Marie Hadad and one of the strong supporters of Dr. Dahesh. This young woman saw all the difficulties that Dr. Dahesh had faced and how the government persecuted, imprisoned, and conspired to expel him and this made her furious and upset…to the point that she had decided to kill the Lebanese President, her uncle, because she was certain that he is the cause of this great calamity. Dr. Dahesh learns of her plot and opposes it, because “killing people violate Daheshist principles.” He writes to Magda to dissuade her from acting on her plot and warns her from falling into this trap…she receives his letter and acts upon his advise of abandoning her plot to commit a murder. However, this repression had created a critical psychological condition that led her to an unfortunate fate…she used the same weapon she had prepared to kill someone else with to kill herself…she pointed the gun towards her chest and pressed the trigger…and Magda died. The death of Magda changed the situation from one level to another…when Marie Hadad saw that her daughter had died in front of her eyes, she changed from being a woman that defended a cause, to a vicious lioness that attacked without taking into consideration any law or reason…
Then comes the uncle—Michel Chiha— who sees in the death of Magda a precious opportunity that he can take advantage of in any way he desires. He gossiped about his niece saying: “She was drawn to Dr. Dahesh to the point of obsession…it is likely that he had sexual relations with her and that she committed suicide to cover up the scandal.” Rumors like this can spread as fast as lightning and it is likely that the foes of Dr. Dahesh had spread them everywhere, because it is a decisive weapon against him. In this fashion, the news traveled throughout Lebanon and Syria.
Had the honorable uncle been satisfied with spreading rumors, his plan would have succeeded for a while…however he wanted the rumors to be supported by a medical report. So, he illegally requested to have an autopsy be performed in the presence of an organized committee, so that the report meets all the necessary official requirements. His wishes were granted…a committee of thirty individuals, all male, was formed and composed of medical doctors, interrogators, witnesses, and members of the police force. Their main goal is to find evidence to support the allegations…we can imagine how Marie Hadad must have felt when thirty men were looking at her daughter’s body and clinically examining it…the clinical examination ended and the conclusion was based on facts and not rumors…because in situation like this, when human beings are faced with the truth, their powerful conscience comes through clearly…so the medical examiner writes in his report: “On November 27, 1945, based on a request made by the district attorney of Beirut to have an autopsy be performed on Magda Hadad, the daughter of George Hadad. In the presence of the district attorney, the examination of her breasts, womb, and sexual organs, shows no sign of any sign of present or previous pregnancy—especially when I personally confirm that her hymen is still present and intact.” Signed, Elias El-Helou, Medical Examiner”
Marie Hadad reads the autopsy report—a report that we can call Public Virginity or Exposed Chastity—and she looks at the committee members and addressed them saying: “you are a despicable gang that serves a despicable authority….”
After hearing her words, the committee members were silent…transcripts indicate that they all lowered their head and left the room…they had dispersed just like a pack of cunning foxes would.”
Marie Hadad then writes her bother, Michel Chiha, the following:
“To Michel Chiha, the conspirator:
The purest girl on Earth committed suicide to protest your crimes. You have conspired against an innocent man and made him suffer for many months on the Golgotha. He had suffered and continues to suffer from deception, imprisonment, beating, starvation, dehydration, physical, and psychological torture. He is without a shelter or a homeland and he is hunted in every place, while leaving behind a yearning mother and a suffering sister. His friends are hurting and blame themselves for not doing enough to defend him. This dear young woman made of herself a great heroic example for all and that your actions have caused her death. Her blood screams against you and the despicable thoughts of imagining horrible things about her. So, shame on you. How dare Charbel (Youssef Charbel, the Director General of Appeals) be able to order the doctors to perform an examination that insults chastity? The person that performed this despicable test was Doctor Helou in the presence of Assaf Ra’ad, the district attorney, and thirty persons from the police gang—to include the police commissioner, ‘Aaref Ibrahim, the thug. I yelled at them saying they are criminal instruments that executes the orders of an evil gang of criminals and that this particular act of theirs is an indication of their evil thoughts and contemptible hearts. Yes, we are happy of this examination despite our pain and extreme disgust. It is all for the “lofty cause” that we are convinced of and believe in its holiness. It is this test that throws a new light on the truth and clears the fog from the eyes of those who were blinded by your false propaganda and disgusting innuendos. So, let them repeat this autopsy, not only in front of Doctor Helou, but rather, in front of all the doctors in the city, so that they all can witness the glorious truth with their own eyes. Couldn’t you think of anything else beyond these disgusting things? Can you imagine that it is possible for people to get to know each other on Earth for reasons other than the despicable ones?
So, for the sake of my daughter’s death, her pure blood, and the agony endured by a mother faced with sacrifices delivered by her daughter, I ask this time, again, to reinstate to Dr. Dahesh his citizenship along with compensation for pain and suffering.
Marie Hadad, the Daheshist”
Gibran Massooh commented in his magazine, “Al-Mukhtasar,” issue 6, year 2, June, 1947, pages 1-3, on the humanitarian goals of Daheshism, that aims to awaken the conscience and build spiritual values in the world so that justice and brotherhood can spread all over the world by saying: “…the man (Dahesh) was making progress with his struggle and attaining one victory after the other, not aware that he had committed a crime of being one of the citizens of our country—a crime that we cannot forgive him for it...had these teachings were brought to us by a cleric from France or Italy, or a missionary from England or the United States, we would have accepted them willingly, won our admiration, and in turn, we would have spread them quickly because they come from a foreign source. However, for someone born in our East to be passing these teachings to us in Arabic makes him a charlatan…desires to control the minds of people…attempts to deceive women by stealing their money…and because he is like that, we should denationalize him without due process of the law…we will not accept anyone that defends him…turn him in to the most aggressive and barbaric police members so that they can insult and despise him…to slap and lash him…then expel him to the Turkish borders where he is subjected to a variety of dangers.
The authorities had imagined that Daheshism had ended there and that it had achieved victory over Dahesh with all of its actions and now it can sleep well. However, lofty principles of the world are of a particular nature and consistent…there, at the Turkish borders where this man was left to the fangs of misery and dangers…there, the real life of Dahesh began. There, the interests of a blind government had ended and the interests of a miserable humanity arose. There, the ministers, judges, and security forces are silent so that a great man can talk. Dahesh was not left alone beyond the Turkish borders, because he met there the conscience of a nation that persecuted him.
This is Dahesh’s goal from the humanitarian aspect, however, he has another goal that is not less noble and honorable than the first: He wants to unite the Arab people into one community by removing all misunderstanding between them. Here he is being subjected to a dangerous issue that no one else had tackled before: He wants to tell all the Christians of the East who Muhammad is…because even now, most Christians of the East don’t know Muhammad. The image that they have painted in their minds does not coincide with reality, because it is an imperialistic image placed in our minds by the clergy of Rome and Paris and the preachers of London, Washington, and Berlin.
The imperialists did only rob our land from its products, gold, and petroleum, but also planted in our minds poisonous lessons that created an endless repulsion between the Christians and the Muslims and a quarrel that grows with the passing of days. Dahesh wanted to remove the enemy from our minds in the same way the enemy was removed from our land, by stripping the lies that the foreigners had planted about this personality and by giving us a true image of Muhammad that we badly needed to know in this era…
Dahesh talks extensively about the Arab Prophet and the importance of his message on human thought. He advises every Christian to research the subject faithfully, honestly, and with humility, so that a new truth is unveiled to the seeker and all the differences between him and his Muslim brother are removed. This time, its removal is based on research, fairness, and scrutiny.”